A new report indicates the White House hadn't fired Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, despite President Donald Trump's previous dismay with him, because doing so would create a media firestorm by prompting FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign.
Three sources with knowledge of the matter told Axios that Wray made that threat after Attorney General Jeff Sessions pressured him to fire McCabe. Sessions reportedly told Wray to make a “fresh start” with his personnel.
The news came amid controversy over Trump's public treatment of his Justice Department, especially the FBI, and special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether Trump attempted to obstruct justice when he fired former FBI Director James Comey.
Last year, Trump suggested Sessions should have fired McCabe, whom the president described as “a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got...big dollars ($700,000) for his wife's political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives.”
“Drain the swamp!” he added. McCabe is reportedly expected to retire in early 2018.
While neither the FBI nor Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores commented for the story, the White House reiterated Trump's support for Wray.
"The president appointed Chris Wray because he is a man of true character and integrity and the right choice to clean up the misconduct at the highest levels of the FBI and give the rank and file confidence in their leadership,” said Raj Shah, the White House's principal deputy press secretary.
Some questioned Trump's appreciation for the FBI after he said on Twitter last year that its reputation was in tatters:
After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters - worst in History! But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2017